How to spot a ladyboy

Sooner or later, it happens to any straight single male away in Asia. That busty, alabaster vision of beauty enveloped in a cloud of perfume proves to be part- or entirely female. He/she is a ladyboy, aka katoey, to use the Thai word.

Any traveller can be wrong-footed. Ladyboys are often convincingly stunning — Cleopatras without the obvious virility traits that make many Western cross-dressers so obvious. Read more at ninemsn…

World’s quirkiest brothels

In the Lucky Country, prostitution is legal but a touch taboo — hence the ban on Santa saying “ho ho ho” and the low visibility of those welcoming red lights. Licensed brothels are liable to blend into the brickwork, with rarely a glimmer of neon. Run a search on the B-word in an online business phone directory and nothing comes up.

Still, at home and abroad, some brothels boldly reject suburban stealth tactics and flaunt it, deviating from drab in a range of ways. Discover the world’s most unusual “short-stay hotels” — offbeat oases of comfort and joy which collectively take a new slant on the oldest profession. Read more at ninemsn…

How to spot a fake travel review

So you think you can trust amateur online travel reviews? Yeah, right — and Santa is real, wrestling bouts are never rigged and Pokemon is a way for kids to worship Satan.

True, review hubs trumpet the claim that they take a dim view of deception. They do their damndest to eradicate it. But, because their security cops lack psychic gifts, some fraud slips through the net.

Ten percent of amateur travel reviews are “completely fabricated”, says Brent Hieggelke, the president of the holiday home network Second Porch. In terms of the reviewer’s relationship to the subject and “possible incentives”, 20 percent are “not transparent”, Hieggelke adds. Read more at ninemsn…

Secret lingo of airline codes

So you want to pay the lowest possible price for a flight? Well, ideally, you will have booked sometime last century. Booking an age in advance is a great cost-cutting tactic but demands vision and luck (for that 2015 world tour to run as planned, your life had better run smoothly).

An alternative way to score a sweet deal is to simply input an online promotional code — if you can squelch misgivings that may arise. Online promotional code coupons might strike some readers as low-rent — the currency of stingy airline dorks who need to get out more. Read more at ninemsn…

Amsterdamned: behind the scenes in Amsterdam’s red light district

Wander Amsterdam‘s red-light district during the day and you may be shocked by its quaintness. The 6500-square-metre district called “De Wallen” or “Rossebuurt” (pink zone) is one of the city’s oldest and prettiest neighbourhoods.

Winding cobbled streets and tree-shaded canals weave among gabled cottages tilted at endearingly peculiar angles. Popular with doctors, lawyers and families, the unlikely (and expensive) heritage zone is said to be one of the safest places to live in Amsterdam.

Thank the police squads and permanently on-duty bodyguards hired by the working women. Aside from the security presence, you might never guess that De Wallen is the world sex tourism scene’s throbbing heart — or one of its most humming hubs. Read more at ninemsn…

Lost in the Bermuda Triangle

Like a black hole, the Bermuda Triangle devours ships and aeroplanes. Or so legend says.
The tall tale was popularised by travel agency guru Charles Berlitz, whose best-selling 1974 book on the Triangle stemmed from client requests to be spared flying over the area. Berlitz’s saga of unexplained disappearances fuelled a craze that eventually faded … but not for long.

The Triangle’s now back on the radar, thanks to a 20th Century Fox adaptation of the classic tall tale Gulliver’s Travels. Read more at ninemsn…

Asian Vegas: Inside Macau’s new Playboy Club

After a rough patch, that naughty nightlife icon the Playboy Bunny is back with a spring in her step. Welcome to the new Macau Bunny Club.

When visitors walk into the club, perched atop the Sands casino resort, they get “a unique VIP arrival experience” via a lavish labyrinth of private gambling parlours and high-tech media rooms dotted with Aussie bunnies plucked from a recent Sydney audition.

Top End talent

Meet one success story from the bunny call, Darwin-based Kia Devine, 20, who has been a Bunny at the club since mid-November. Assessing how Macau compares with Darwin, Devine paints the island tucked under China as less multicultural — dominated by Chinese and Portuguese — but refreshing. Read more at ninemsn…